Firefighters heading for more strike action

Firefighters in South Tyneside on the picket line during the last round of strikes  in a row over pensions. South Shields station. Front frpm left Tom Mellefort and Lee Finnigan
Firefighters in South Tyneside on the picket line during the last round of strikes in a row over pensions. South Shields station. Front frpm left Tom Mellefort and Lee Finnigan

FIREFIGHTERS in South Tyneside are be gearing up for another round of strikes as a row over pensions continues.

The Fire Brigade Union has announced fresh industrial action will take place in the coming weeks as part of a long-running dispute with the government.

No date has yet been announced for the action but union officials claim Fire Minister Penny Mordaunt and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles misled parliament by saying they had introduced a statutory guarantee that a firefighter failing a fitness test through no fault of their own would receive a full pension.

The FBU say no such guarantee exis.

The strikes kicked off in 2013 are in a row with the governement over pensions and the age at which a firefighter can retire.

Ministers want firefighters to work until the age of 60 before they can claim a pension - a move union officials say will put at risk the lives of the emergency service workers and the public.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “Firefighters in England will strike for a 24 hour period in the coming weeks. We will finalise details soon.

“Firefighters are outraged at the behaviour of Penny Mordaunt and her boss Eric Pickles, who misled Parliament by falsely claiming that they had introduced a statutory guarantee that a firefighter failing a fitness test through no fault of their own would receive a full and unreduced pension.

“After investigation, it is now clear beyond doubt that no fire service employer agrees that any such guarantee exists.

“The response from the fire service employers have shown very clearly that Parliament has been misled to allow the government to force through attacks on firefighter pensions.

“Firefighters cannot accept these pension changes as they take no proper account of the real work firefighters do. It is outrageous that the only way the government could win a vote on this is by blatantly misleading MPs.”

A spokesman for Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service said: “We are aware of the situation and will be monitoring it. Should the Fire Brigades Union announce a further period of industrial action in their ongoing dispute with the Government over pensions, we will put in place our contingency arrangements.”